19th century philosophy

Forlorn hope of a sad clown :(


The clip I choose to talk about is from the 2002 anime “Cowboy Bebop”, in the show the protagonist Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter, and his crew are in a futuristic space setting with sci-fi and Western elements. Specifically, I wanted to discuss the initial sequence from the twentieth episode “Pierrot le fou”. The reason I chose this clip is because it shows how we can come to know about an idea, being fearful; of evil in this instance, through the immersive medium of art as Schopenhauer suggested. This is achieved by reaching oneness between the object and through art which can help us get out of thinking by means solely of sufficient reason*.

 it achieves this oneness with the object in a way that is still beholden to sufficient reason but allows it to get beyond it through art. Schopenhauer says”. It therefore pauses at this particular thing; the course of time stops; the relations vanish for it; only the essential, the Idea, is its object.” (Schopenhauer WWR, bk.3, §36)

The visual of the red eye is a perfect example of what Schopenhauer is discussing, we only get quick frames of it and in that sense time stops and vanishes. But more importantly, the visual of the eye represents sight, vision, and one’s perspective and this combined with the earlier mentioned camera movement indicates that we are literally seeing Pierrot’s perspective literally and metaphorically. To read further into this, the exaggerated nature of the shot and the red color of the eye combined with the harsh eerie screeches of the music signal that this is not a normal perspective, it’s a foreboding one.

Another example of this is the last part of this sequence where our protagonist Spike, is staring down the barrel of Pierrot’s cane gun. The scene seems to slow time down as we switch from seeing Spike’s perspective of staring down the gun of a barrel/to the features he notes about Pierrot and also Pierrot’s perspective of Spike in this vulnerable position. Showing spikes perspective forces us to feel the way he does (as much as art can) and in this way we are becoming one with the object, ie Spike. Moreover This scene acts as a meditation on death/fear of death, as the viewer is forced to view the barrel of a gun for an uncomfortably long time, but it also shows how helpless Spike ultimately is in the situation. In addition the helpless feeling spike is feeling is paralleled by the viewer who feels helpless under this uncomfortable visual of a gun barrel. Reading deeper into this, the forced perspective combined with the gun personifying death itself in this instance( ‘as hunger does to teeth’) and Pierrot embodying fear, calls back to images of a grim reaper which we are helpless and are reminded of through the perspective of spike.

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